Filed under: Healthy Swellness

Healthy Swellness: 2020 Year in Review

IMG_4678

What can I say about this past year…I debated not writing this post this year, but then I started thinking it might be helpful to look back and see that this year wasn’t a total write-off…

This year started off really well for me. 2019 had ended amazingly with a phenomenal trip to Thailand. And I felt like 2020 was going to be my year. Work was going well, I was working with many smart and kind people and was in a groove. In early February of this year, I had the phenomenal opportunity to run the Dead Sea Marathon (I just did the half distance as I was not in race-shape) and extended my trip and fell totally in love with Israel. The phenomenal food, the sights, and I will always remember Tel Aviv as the city where a complete stranger secretly paid for my lunch, just out of the kindness of his heart.

Then I came back in early March from a press trip on a cruise and the pandemic had fully grabbed hold of Toronto a few days later. And 2020 all went to SH*T. It was most definitely not going to be my year, or anyone’s year. And it’s been hard AF.

But a couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that this year has not been the most challenging year I’ve experienced, and since then, this has made me feel more prepared to make it through each day. I feel like I’m always a work in progress when it comes to being more resilient and if anything this year has shown how resilient we all are. Day to day life has been a struggle for sure, and as overwhelming as those struggles have been, I’m happy and proud of a few things I managed to do this year:

117595634_761690017929039_6907621251400303142_n

I ran my first ultra race. I worked my ass off and ran 1,021.68 kilometres in 91 days, and then ran and walked another 1,021.68k before the official end of the four-month period of the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee. Thinking back to May and June now, I truly can’t believe I ran sometimes as much as three times a day to complete the race more than twice as early as I initially planned to complete the race. And to have doubled the distance with including a ton of walking. I had Laz Lake comment on one or two of my Facebook comments so having this running legend correspondence, plus doing this virtual race with my friend Aylin, well, this experience would not have happened without the pandemic as I have always sworn that I am not someone who runs every single day, including getting up to run at sunrise (which in an of itself is an accomplishment for this non-morning person).

IMG_0050

I read 17 books. I started the year with a few goals, and I only managed to complete one of them. While I failed at learning how to use my camera and doing workouts other than running, I crushed my goal to read one book a month. I’m thrilled to have returned to my passion for reading. I took too many years off from reading books and being able to disconnect from social media and escape into a book has helped me regain a sense of calm. I have an ongoing list of books to read and plan to continue and hopefully boost how much I read in the new year. (Of the two books pictured, I reco Ask Again, Yes; I didn’t get to the Gladwell book yet!)

IMG_4539

I found new ways to spend time with friends. My go-to for catching up with friends is typically to meet for dinner and drinks. While that will always be something I love to do, with restaurants closed for dining much of this year, it means with some friends, we have discovered new ways to see each other. Including hiking (something I love but somehow with certain friends we just have never made the effort to), or just meeting at a park or for a bike ride. And enjoying the outdoors always serves up a fantastic mood boost.

E72C9210-0CF2-4723-8041-F8AEEA635C87

I rode my bike more than I have in my entire life, and on city streets. I only started riding my bike towards the end of August, as I was entirely focused on completing as many running and walking kilometres for my virtual race up until then. But once I completed that race, I rode my bike (even on busy streets like College St.!) to get around the city, and I met up with friends to go for a ride, usually with our destination being a delicious local food spot. I still am not 100 percent comfortable with riding in the city, but this year I’ve ridden at night, in the rain and snow and was on my bike up until December 29th. Today there’s some snow and ice on the roads so I might need to pause until spring, but all of the kilometres I completed on two wheels these last few months is a major feat for me.

IMG_0297

The biggest and best thing to come out of this year, though, is that it’s forced me to remember and appreciate what really matters, being in good health and the people that are important to me. I’ve tried my best to nurture both those things; that said, I regularly fail at getting enough sleep, though, and have developed a chocolate habit the past few months; and sometimes I just don’t have the bandwidth to check in on loved ones. I try not to beat myself up about it, we are all doing the best we can, after all. We survived this unprecedented way of living and that’s a lot, and it’s enough if that is “all” you can chalk up for this year.

IMG_8952

Take a moment to think of the best that’s come out of this past year. I think you too will find there are those moments, even if small. Even if fleeting. Even if the only thing you can think of that you accomplished is finishing a puzzle (I have only managed to complete one, turns out I’m terrible at puzzles. But I’m still working at it!).

Oh, I almost forgot to check my 2020 Top Nine on Instagram…about half are fitness-focused. A couple of travel shots, and one is from my Billie Jean-centred partnership with Giant Tiger (she’s still snacking on the treats from that partnership!). And one is all about gin, which makes sense as I sure sipped more than a few cocktails in 2020!

5008c636-be1b-4016-8c59-c77e9e3b5e10

And with that, I wish you a brighter, safe and happy 2021.

k xo

Leave a Comment December 30, 2020

Healthy Swellness: 3 Good Morning Essentials

coffee

With every day of living through the pandemic being pretty draining, I’ve come to really appreciate a few things that brighten up each morning and help set me off in a better mood for the day. Currently making my mornings better:

My Starbucks milk frother. I hemmed and hawed about buying milk frother for many, many months (maybe even over a year—I just have so many appliances, and didn’t want to add yet another). But when a neighbour was selling hers, I snapped it up and it’s by far the best purchase I’ve made during the pandemic and my most used appliance (other than my Nespresso machine). While I’ve always savoured my morning coffee, being able to make frothy lattes now elevates my morning cuppa joe and, healthy bonus, I’m getting more calcium in my diet. I truly do look feel as happy as I am in this photo when I’ve got my morning coffee! And that’s not even with latte art!

The frother I bought is an older Starbucks model that I don’t think is available anymore as I can’t find it online, but based on my months of online research, the Nespresso Aeroccino is one of the sleekest ones I’ve found (and design is so important when it’s an appliance you have out on your kitchen counter all the time). If the $100 price tag of the Aeroccino is a bit steep for you, my friend Gabrielle is happy with the FKANT handheld milk frother she recently purchased (and btw, you should follow her on IG for her delightful sardonic wit!). And yes, I discuss milk frothers with my friends, don’t you? Haha!

IMG_4424

Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Face Wash in Pink Grapefruit. Now, I’m not a morning person (although I’d like to be but I’m just not hardwired to be one) and I really appreciate anything that helps to perk me up in the a.m. and it was such a surprise to find it a brighten-my-day product in this inexpensive ($12!)  facial cleanser. The Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Face Wash‘s pink grapefruit scent is a refreshing wake-up in the shower as I cleanse my face. Plus, it contains salicylic acid so it helps clear blemishes (and I’ve been struggling with occasional maskne breakouts).

IMG_4467

Stojo Collapsible Pocket Cup. I try my best to plan my time well, but it seems no matter what, I’m often running out of the house in a rush. So more often than not, I have to take my coffee or smoothie to go, sometimes it’s when I’m walking Billie Jean in the morning. As I’m usually getting to places on foot for my errands, a collapsible cup to go works best for me so I can easily collapse it and tuck it into my bag for the rest of the day. The only downside to the Stojo is it’s not insulated so it doesn’t keep my bevvie hot or cold (I use a Hydroflask for that, like if I need hot chocolate to keep me warm on a winter hike). My Stojo cup was a gift from a friend, who got it from Logan and Finley, an eco-conscious shop here in Toronto (shop local!). I don’t believe they carry the Stojo anymore, but they do have this glass reusable takeaway cup that looks great, love the cork band.

What are your morning essentials?

Leave a Comment December 23, 2020

Healthy Swellness: 2019 Year in Review

IMG_20191206_233345

What a year!

I realized sometime late this fall what a wonderful year I’d had so far (and it only got better from there). And I was surprised. The past several years have often wrapped up with a feeling of heaviness as time flies by and a feeling that I’ve just gone through the motions of living. While I still stress and have anxieties about work and finances and exactly where the heck my life is heading, this year I feel I was able to just trust the process a bit more, and in the meanwhile incredible opportunities and experiences filled my year and, yes, I’ll say it, fed my soul.

What I’ll take away from this year:
 IMG_20191004_143831_1 (1)

New and old friendships that mean the world to me. I read some quote recently about how you don’t lose friends, but  we only learn who the true ones are. I have some friends from childhood, some friendships have developed over the past decade and, thanks to my work and regularly meeting people on press trips, new budding friendships, and I try not to take any of them for granted. If I say, “Let’s grab a drink!” I mean it and want to follow through with meeting up. This year, I was smarter about how I spent my days and who I chose to invest my time with, rather than making plans out of feeling obligated, and am happier for it. I’ve been friends with Jennifer (her site is Travel & Style) for more than a decade but we only more recently started again spending more time together; this is a photo from our trip to Arlington, VA, this year; I’ll be blogging about that soon!

Screenshot_20200102-075335

I am happier when I am focused and present.  With friends here at home, it’s about carving out time in my schedule so we can catch up properly. Making time for the people that matter to me. Putting down my phone (Must I post this photo or that photo in real time? No!). When away from home, it’s about letting go of the need to fit in a million things into my day so I can focus on and enjoy what’s in front of me. I had the most rewarding opportunities this year on some longer travels; I drove my myself (a huge feat in itself for me–as someone who gets really anxious getting lost) through the mountains in Alberta over the course of about two weeks namely in Jasper, Banff, Kananaskis and Calgary(the photo above is at Drumheller, just outside of Calgary). While I’d been nervous about so many hours solo in a car, it was truly a trip of a lifetime and singing out loud with jaw-dropping scenery all around me, every day I felt like my heart was going to explode with happiness.

In August, I spent most of the month pet-sitting in Brooklyn and having the amazing wealth of time to poke around that incredible city made me love New York City even more than I already did because I was able to just be there without stressing about running to this shop and to go see that sight. As someone who tends to be more cautious and practical by nature, I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of doing this month in NYC (initially I was super worried about both my cat and dog, managing juggling work from afar and a million other little stresses and I went back and forth for several weeks about whether I could pull off a month away from home). In the fall, with an invite to run the Istanbul Marathon, I ended up staying for several more days after the race than I’d felt comfortable with initially (due to the flight option for my return home, I was there for a full 10 days) and that ended up truly being a gift. Wandering Istanbul and visiting the stunning mosques without the pressure of having to fit in everything I wanted to soak up in a short amount of time was something I know I am very lucky to be able to do. I was able to just soak up the incredible city I was in. And this month, just when I was ready to wrap up an already incredible year with a great trip to the Dominican Republic, I was invited to Thailand and spent an exceptional two weeks (including a few days of personal vacation time) poking around Bangkok, Phuket, Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai. And while the trip started off terribly with my phone going missing upon landing in Bangkok, that upsetting incident just forced me to remember that material things can’t replace the exceptional experiences I had in store, ones I will remember the rest of my life. Like when a baby elephant sat on my lap.

 

MVIMG_20191020_115427 (1) (1)

I am stronger than I realize. From making it through some terrible work situations to running a fantastic race where I almost made my Boston Qualifying time, and running a terrible race in Istanbul (it was just two weeks after running Detroit), I realized this year I am more resilient and determined than I give myself credit for. I’ve been told I am hard on myself (but aren’t we all?) and this year I tried to be kinder to myself. It worked sometimes, and of course, I have highs and lows, but overall I think I managed to feel more at ease with me, imperfections and all. Do I wish I were a stronger runner or have accomplished more in my career? Always. But I feel like I’m in a better place to actually make that happen. For many years, I’ve felt incapable of actually doing things, paralyzed by fears and anxiety, but I’m back to being in a head space where I can put plans into action.

IMG_20190701_050301 (1)

I should do more things that scare me. That drive in Alberta, in many areas where there was no data or GPS reception? I was nervous about it. More terrifying was when I got completely lost during a solo hike on that same trip. Thankfully I found my way (and the lesson from the hike is that I shouldn’t do not frequently used trail solo going forward). This year also brought me to the French Alps, and I ended up paragliding many, many feet up in the air even though I wasn’t quite sure it was something I was comfortable with (long story, but I had somehow confused what paragliding was when I agreed to it and somewhat before I knew it, was harnessed in and in the air!) and it was one of the best adventures I’ve experienced. To be honest, mountain biking in the Alps was much scarier for me. It’s the second time I’ve done it and I go very slowly and the chances of crashing seem so high! But perhaps the most terrifying thing I did was white water rafting in Arizona. My jaw hurt from clenching my teeth so hard. The idea of being tossed out of the raft and having to float and then having to try to get back on the boat all the while potentially hitting rocks, that’s not something I was comfortable with. None of that happened, though; all of these scary things, I forced myself to be brave and nothing bad happened. I need to continue to work on not letting fear hold me back.

MVIMG_20190815_221344 (1)

I’ll be going to boyband concerts for years to come. OK, this is not something I realized just this year. I’ve known this a long time, but ultimately, the lesson is to do what makes you happy. If that’s seeing NKOTB and the Backstreet Boys over and over, well, go ahead. Do your thing. I recall mentioning to a friend once that I felt guilty for shopping for myself during Christmas, and she didn’t understand. “You work hard, why feel guilty about buying something for yourself?” she said. And yet this treat-yoself guilt still seems to be ingrained in me but I’m trying to let go of it. This year, I was blessed with seeing NKOTB once, and BSB twice and did I mention I met Howie? So whether it’s cutting out of work to fit in a workout or spending a lot of money on a concert I’ve already seen, I’m worth it. You’re worth it, whatever it is that makes you happy. In my opinion, boyband concerts totally count as self-care.

Howie D

Photo credit for this shot of me with Howie goes to Toybox, where the after-party was held; I’m forever grateful the photographer captured this!

Saying so long to the past decade…

With this also being the end of a decade, with such a positive 2019, I feel optimistic as to what the next decade holds. I spent the last 10 years rebuilding my life from what felt like scratch. I had to start the decade with the end of a long-term relationship, then had a few extremely difficult few years where my biggest accomplishment was simply making it out alive (2014-2016 were years I’d rather forget but I try to look at them now as having made me stronger). This decade, I lost my amazing cat Kobe; he was the first pet I had has an adult and he saw me through so many significant moments and that was a crushing loss in 2018. But it’s also the decade I adopted my very first dog, Billie Jean, who makes my heart grow bigger every day.

I’m looking forward to a brand new year and a brand new decade. Here’s to making it an exceptional one!

K xo

 

Leave a Comment December 31, 2019

Previous page


Recent Posts

Categories

Recent Comments